It sounds like Adrian Perica, Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, has been having a busy couple of weeks.
This weekend, it got out that he’s been having meetings with electric automaker Tesla.
Today, TechCrunch is reporting that Apple has acquired Burstly, the developers behind a popular ad management platform and owner of app testing platform TestFlight.
While non-techies likely haven’t heard much about TestFlight, the platform is a huge tool for app developers.
App development platforms are a newly hot area: One of Facebook’s most important but little-noticed recent acquisitions was Parse, an app development platform that some say gives CEO Mark Zuckerberg a sneak preview of which apps are hot and which are not.
Even more than Facebook, Apple and its iPhones and iPads are dependent on having a rich environment of cool new apps for their customers to use. Burstly thus helps the company guarantee a supply of properly tested apps.
On the flip side of that coin, this move also hurts both Android developers and users: TestFlight’s support page notes that support for Android will end on March 21, 2014. That must come as a shock to any developers testing Android apps for release in the next few months.
In early 2012, Google Ventures partner and tech blogger MG Siegler wrote that TestFlight was used by nearly 70,000 developers to help test 130,000 apps when it was bought by Burstly in late 2011.
Since then, it’s usage numbers have likely moved significantly higher. Properly testing apps for bugs and interface feedback is more important than ever in the current app market — and thus far, Apple has been slacking on making that process easy for developers.
While its Developer Enterprise program gives app developers a number of tools that make it easy to distribute “in-house” apps to employees of the same company, developers under the traditional $US99/year program are limited to registering 100 devices for testing at a time and handling distribution of test versions themselves.
For years, that discrepancy in testing tools created a huge market for services like TestFlight, which claims on its site that “most of the world’s developers rely on the TestFlight platform for beta testing.” We don’t have the numbers to back that statement up, but now that Apple owns it (and can bake the technology into the development software every iOS developer is using), it’s almost guaranteed to be true.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post if we hear back.